Eight Indian personnel who were working with the private company Dahra Global Technology & Consulting Services, were detained in Doha (Qatar) on 30th August 2022. Though the formal charges against have still not been disclosed by the Qatar authorities, certain national and international media have started presuming the Indians guilty without reason and tainting the country’s image amidst the G20 summit that was happening in India this year!
Dahra Global’s Contract & Dealings with Qatar Navy
Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy services is a private company owned by a former Oman Air Force Officer Khamis al-Ajmi. The Qatar-based defence company was contracted to work with Qatari Emiri Navy to establish a navy base and train its soldiers. Therefore, the company had hired retired Naval specialists from India for the project.
In August 2022, the Qatar State Security detained 8 of these Indian employees. The CEO of the company, Khamis Al Ajmi was also detained but was released within a few days. 10 months since, the reason of the arrest of the employees as well as the release of CEO still remain shrouded in mystery.
Another controversial aspect of this incident is the way it became public. The arrest only came to light when a Twitter user (supposedly a relative of one of the Indians accused) requested assistance of the Indian government.
Disinformation & Agenda-driven Fake News
A few media outlets have claimed that the reason of arrest is the stealing information of Qatar’s secret submarine project. It is alleged that the Gulf nation is working on a super-secret project to develop advanced near-future submarines with Italy-based company Fincantieri. However Fincantieri spokesperson vehemently denies building or planning to build any submarines for the Qatari Navy.
Till now there is neither any proof nor any verdict on the stealing of information, but the allegations have been unduly amplified in the media outlets, especially in Pakistan news outlets. Further, Pakistani news outlets ‘The Express Tribune’ and ‘The News International’ have also reported that the detained Indians have been given the death penalty by Qatar court, which is baseless. There are other news outlets that published clickbait stories in the last two months acting completely on speculations and citing each other on this certain incident.
Though these types of tactics are not new to India, their numbers have increased in past months as India took the presidency for the global G20 summits in 2023.
In contrast to Pakistan’s economic crisis and political chaos, India has been emerging as one of the most powerful players in Asia. Which is why Pakistan through print and digital media (especially social media like YouTube) has increased attacks on India by spreading disinformation and fake news. India’s development has earned appreciation globally. And the successful presidency of the G20 too demonstrates its ability to provide leadership on the global stage and navigate complex challenges. All this no doubt irks the neighbour which is battling financial, social, political and moral crisis at home.
Present Situation on Qatar’s detention of Indians
India’s embassy in Qatar has been in touch with Qatari authorities and has gotten consular access to the detained Indian nationals. The embassy is also providing robust legal support for the eight men. The first hearing of the trial was held on March 29, followed by a second hearing on May 3rd, 2023.
The situation after the second hearing stands at this –
- Second Hearing Adjourned – As the defence attorney was not given access to the required documents, the second hearing that was scheduled on May 3rd (yesterday) has been adjourned. The date for the next hearing is not known yet.
- No formal charges on the Indians yet – It is now almost 10 months since they were first detained, however the Qatar authorities are yet to inform India & their families of the charges under which they have been imprisoned.
- CEO establishes new company and dissolves Dahra Global – As per the investigations done by The Sunday Guardian, the CEO of Dahra Global, Retired Omani Air Force Squadron Leader Khamis Al Ajmi with the help of two French nationals has set up a new company called Advanced Services and Maintenance. This company is in the process of taking over all the assets owned by Dahra, including office buildings, contracts and non-Indian employees.
- All Indian nationals employed with the company have been sacked.